If there’s ONE formula every copywriter in the world knows, it’s probably AIDA.
It was developed in the late nineteenth century by American advertising and sales pioneer, Elmo Lewis.
It describes the four main stages that occur when you convert a cold lead to a buyer.
The idea behind AIDA is that all advertisement needs to capture the Attention of its audience, create Interest towards the offer, trigger the Desire to take action, and finally, callout and ask them to take that Action.
The mission of an advertisement is to attract a reader, so that he will look at the advertisement and start to read it; then to interest him, so that he will continue to read it; then to convince him, so that when he has read it he will believe it. If an advertisement contains these three qualities of success, it is a successful advertisement. — Elmo Lewis
There’s a but.
AIDA is not my favorite <link to AIDA vs PAS>.
Yes, it is a simple formula, but I prefer something else.
Copywriting is an art, not science.
That is why no one can tell you what to do.
Copywriting formulas are mere guidelines.
Once you understand the principles, it is your creativity to turn them into your framework.
Now, my favorite copywriting formula is based on fear.
Ohhh, things are starting to get freaky…
But I shit you not.
Disclaimer: What I am sharing with you here is very powerful. Heck, even the word “fear” being used here has triggered your fear of missing out, isn’t it? You should only read on if you have the desire to help make lives better, NOT worse. In other words, you should only use this to help and solve people’s problem. NEVER, ever use this in an unethical way. Are we clear?
Okay, now let’s get back to it.
Fear is the fundamental of human’s sense of survival.
We act to avoid pain than to achieve gain.
But that’s the psychology overview.
And you probably guessed it right.
My favorite copywriting formula is a derivation of fear.
It’s called the Problem-Agitation-Solution (PAS), invented by copywriting legend Dan Kennedy.
I have used this basic formula to structure super-effective sales presentations for live salespeople in every imaginable business… I’ve used it for over 136 different industries, and not only for sales letters, but also for salespeople. It may be the most reliable sales formula ever invented. — Dan Kennedy
The reason why I prefer this formula over AIDA is that Problems can attract even more Attention (no pun intended) than Benefits.
Problems lead to fear.
Fear motivates more powerfully, more persuasively, and more physiologically than any other emotion.
Solution removes fear.
The general idea is that by capitalizing on the fear factor, we can agitate our readers to an emotional stage that they WANT our solution.
Let’s skip straight to role-play so you can immediately learn how to apply PAS!
I will let you be Captain Jack.
And the story starts.
One day, you decided you are tired of the pirate life.
You want to settle down and open a dojo to teach sword-fighting.
That is, after all, what you know best (minus your deception skills).
You rented a small studio of 312 square feet in the small town of Tortuga.
And the place is just across the street from your favorite bar.
That means, plenty of potential traffic!
How do you capitalize on the potential traffic?
By now you should’ve already understood the importance of marketing & sales, especially for a new business like your dojo.
And to get your first batch of students, you need to advertise!
First, you need to identify the Problem you are trying to solve..
And that is: too many pirates can’t fight!
What is the use of a pirate that can’t fight?
Second step, the Agitation.
What are the consequences of NOT solving the problem?
Losing fights, suffering injuries, or worst, death!
Third step, what Solution can you provide to solve this problem and help avoid further pains?
Join the Sword Dojo for Pirate!
Can you see how easy it is to formulate your contents and direction?
With the outlines, you can now easily craft your ads, whether they are flyers, direct mails, emails, or even Facebook Ads!
The PAS formula capitalizes on the fear psychology.
The ability to understand the problems your audience face is what makes you a good copywriter, because only then, you can paint the pain more vividly, thus invoking fear.
Get them nodding in their head when reading your writings, and you have established the first step, trust.
Next step in PAS is to stir things up.
Capitalize the fear.
Make the pain worse.
Bring in the emotional factor.
Pour salt onto the wound you’ve just pointed out.
Answer the 5W-H-Wi below to escalate the fear factor.
Who is your specific target prospect?
What is the nature of the problem you are trying to solve for them?
When do they experience the problem?
Where else does the problem affect them (negatively)?
Why can’t they solve the problem by themselves?
How have they tried to solve it but failed?
What if the problem can be solved?
And finally, show them a way out by revealing the solution.
Let’s see PAS copywriting in other scenarios..
Problem: Sales are dropping by 20% each year.
Agitate: You are paying so much for office rental, designers, programmers, and are barely breaking even. Tons of competitors online doing the same business, but they are most probably the same as you. All because they know how to DO, but they do not know how to SELL.
Solution: You need a copywriter who knows how to sell with words. We understand the psychology of persuasion to get people to trust you online. To maximize your ROI on ad spent.
Problem: You are overweight and unhappy.
Agitate: You are feeling tired all the time. You feel embarrassed when people look at you differently. Painful ankles and knees. You also fear other life-threatening diseases that you might get by being overweight. You tried this and that but nothing works.
Solution: There is now a safe, easy and fun way to lose weight.
Copywriting formulas provide a good starting point to brainstorm and outline further details. It is then up to you to turn it into a great framework of your own by adding other elements like call-to-action, testimonials, bonuses and so on.
Ray Edwards, expert copywriter and author of How to Write Copy That Sells, further refine the PAS into PASTOR by adding in the Testimony, Offer, and Response.
And there you have it.
PAS, my favorite formula to outline whatever I am writing.
Elaborate by using the 5W-H-Wi.
Fear is the most primal human motivator.
Use PAS for all your copy-outlining and you are on the right track to trigger all the emotions necessary for them to take that action.